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5.08.2006

The Giant Elephant in the Blog

I plan a full-scale rebuttal to last week's
post (click on the purple word, Dad). It's my friend Jeff's blog and a lovely blog at that--however misguided his latest posting reveals it to be. Ah, I'm just teasing. As a Republican, proud and CHRISTIAN, holy smokes, I am an apparent contradiction and most assuredly a mischaracterization. However, before I post the myriad reasons why Republicans best serve my interests and the interests of most Americans with their policies, I'd like to address the giant elephant that was in his blog. And no, it wasn't an Irish-Mexican Republican.

As a Christian, I support the War in Iraq. And no doubt, the beginning of this blogging dialogue between two friends alluded to this topic in describing people who "give their unceasing loyalty to a party rather than ideas or the like." Previous posts have more blatantly spoken up against war. So let the games begin, and Jeff note that I respect your feelings, truly, especially since they are heartfelt and not political.

I just think you're wrong.

Jesus says we should turn the other cheek and "Blessed are the peacemakers" to be sure, but he also speaks of not building your house on sand, not being foolish and not being legalistic. He speaks of hell and damnation, love and fulfilling the law. I say this not to justify my beliefs or anyone's actions, but to counter any justification in His name--FOR or AGAINST. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves, and we are to love Him with all we are. Sure killing someone isn't loving them really, but I'd just challenge that if someone killed a loved one of mine and was coming after me next, turning the other cheek might be more foolish than wise. Now that's me. Maybe some want to die without putting up a fight and defending themselves, resigned to whatever fate befalls them through peace on their end. Jesus certainly did this himself as was prophesied. But I dont know that He intended us to. Personal opinion I guess, and again, Scripture can be twisted either way on this. Israel was violent; Jesus was not. Some say America was "founded on God." Others think it was wrong to try to overthrow the British because the Bible speaks to respecting your rulers who God placed in control. Ah stupid "priesthood of the believer" complications.

I do believe that the Church should show compassion to all people--not just Americans--and it should embrace justice. It should not seek out war, should not seek out violence, should not champion the desolation of entire countries and their people. I contend, however, that is exactly what Saddam did. He massacred hundreds of thousands, mostly because of race, including by use of yes, weapons of mass destruction. He raped mothers and daughters with their husbands and fathers forced to watch, and then he murdered them afterwards. He tortured. He eliminated political enemies, even allies who were rising too quickly politically. He was the personification of Sadistic Injustice, and he was reigning hypocritically free. I'm not speaking to eliminating him and his regime out of vengeance, but justice. The Lord is sovereign and just. He would have got his eventually, but the evil would have continued until then. And it threatened us here. I have not a single doubt that Saddam shipped his WMD to Syria or buried them in the desert along with
these. Maybe it wasn't a grave enough threat in many people's minds, and as a Republican I was truly nervous to initiate an unprovoked attack. But the madness of a man the likes of Hilter, Stalin, Kim Jong Ill, or even Ahmanijanad in Iran now, could not and should not be underestimated or "over-compassioned." He was in violation of some 14 UN resolutions stemming back to the Clinton White House, and he was constantly attacking US fighter jets in the No Fly Zone, itself an act of aggression. He supported families of Palestinian terrorists, and despite the tales to the contrary, had at least minimal contact with leaders from al-qaeda. All this to say, compassion is okay to an extent, but when it blurs the border of injustice for 50 million citizens and the safety of 300 million Americans and some 6 million Jews, the limit has been exceded. "Poor steward of what was given him," is a dramatically understated way of putting it I suppose. I sort of equate this with a murderer here in the States. Should we let them go on killing in the name of compassion? In the name of peace? In the name of turning the other cheek? To quote Paul, "by no means!" Somewhere justice has to be served for the safety of the people. I think God is okay with that. Again, that's me being my own believer and priest, but it's my conviction.

Strikingly (since I am a "party line" guy and apparently inherently sinful or "vexing" as "someone of faith" for finding similar ideals mostly championed in one party), I feel we need to stop injustice everywhere. President Bush's 2nd Inaugural Speech spoke to the sweeping desire for liberty to be realized in all persons as they were created to be free. That is beautiful and something Christians should desire. God gives us freedom to make choices, including giving Mr. Calvin the free will to choose to be Calvinist. He has set it in our hearts, pitting us choose between Him or the world. Man should be free to choose in life too. But oppression prevents this obviously. I am not proposing, by military force, that we liberate every oppressed people. But where the limit is being drawn, where patience has run its course, all options should be on the table in ensuring liberty for mankind. The Cold War ensured (limited) liberty for Russians and all the Eastern European nations now rallying to its cause. I have no doubt a free Iraq, Afghanistan and Israel will encourage more freedom in Egypt, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Libya and Kuwait. Rwanda was a disgrace to civilized governments and conglomerations of governments. At the time I was probably opposed to intervention, but the elimination of entire races of people because they are that race is a sin against all humankind's history. Something should have been done. Sudan is hopefully transitioning toward peace through negotiations. Hopefully that's all that will be needed to ensure justice for the people. I desire justice and liberty for all people. So should other Christians.

I understand when people counter that LOVE is revolutionary. I believe this too. I believe love has the ability to change lives and ultimately no life is saved or realized without it. People need Jesus and see Him through love. But love does not always take the face of non-violence and inaction. Sometimes love is called into action. Discipline is an example of love enacted. But so too love in action can be removing despots and tyrants and freeing people to experience LIFE and LIBERTY and THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. To free people to LIVE and not die, to love and not fear, to care and not always hurt. Love can be rescuing the sick and dying and tortured and massacred and raped from the bondage of injustice, indecency and inhumanity. Love can be action sometimes, and sadly sometimes through violent means. It doesn't make war less violent or less saddening or less collateral, but it does offer an end of hope and peace and love.

Democracy doesn't always come easily (see our own difficulty of 10-15 years), but it must prevail, it must persevere, it must become reality. Iraqis want it. They wouldn't turn out to vote in higher percentages than Americans, amidst life-threatening conditions, if they didn't want liberty, if it wasn't set in their hearts. Yes, Iraq is really awful right now, but running away in this critical juncture would be devastating. To quote our First President (apparently it carries more weight than other quotes), "Liberty, when it begins to take root, is a tree of rapid growth." Persevere. Out of compassion, out of a love for justice, out of a love for people. Persevere. Out of a love for things greater than ourselves and for things set in the hearts of men. Persevere. Out of a desire to see Liberty take root.

One last thing I suppose.
MichaelSavage.com I think it is. I'm not his biggest fan and often times find him over the top, carelessly rude and needlessly insensitive. But that doesn't disqualify him from making sense sometimes. Well his website has video of the beheadings that have occurred in Iraq. It is awful. It is gruesome. It is controversial and probably reason enough for people to dislike him. But my older brother and I looked one day, and I watched in UTTER GUT-WRENCHING HORROR, something I have never experienced in my life. The DEPRAVITY of mankind right before my eyes. The INHUMANITY of these "religious" animals. This religion of peace that has waged war on Christianity and America and Israel. And the epitome of the jihad evidenced in a simple video recording. I don't encourage you to watch it for me or out of some morbid curiosity. But if you want to know why I feel war is necessary at times, then go. Nick Berg is a hero to me, unfortunately he had no choice but to turn both cheeks.

3 comments:

Sheri Ann said...

I finally sat down to read this. I have a lot of respect for what you said here. I commented on Jeff's blog that I was unsure of my stance on war since I am by nature a pacifist in all areas of life. But I do understand war is necessary at times. God supported war in the Bible, and even though it can be at times rather ugly and gruesome, it is necessary. But I imagine hell to be ugly and gruesome as well, and we know that war will be waged on this earth until the day our Savior comes back to finish it all.

scott_michael_perey said...

"...turn the other cheek."

I'm sorry, but that doesn't leave much to interpretation. Yet, on the other hand, I have to admit that I would probably kill someone unhesitantly if it stopped them from killing someone I loved. Maybe that's right, maybe that's wrong.... but it's where I'm at right now.

But this, to me, is mostly irrelevant here. The sad fact of the matter is that the war that the U.S. is fighting in Iraq is but the latest engagement in roughly two-hundred years of ongoing and unending military actions at one place on the globe or another. Of course, every single time it's been about "national security" and "democracy" and "freedom" and all those other words that just feel so good. However, the ulterior motives have nearly-always-if-not-always been the acquiring of more land or more resources or more markets. Anyone who takes an honest look at history from a non-nationalistic, objective perspective would be in denial not to concede this.

As for the recent fifty or so years, well, Eisenhower warned us of the development of an emerging cabal of military and business interests that has corrupted our democracy internally. And now look what we've got. An economy that is largely dependent on war after war after war.

What replaced WWII to keep the numbers up? The Cold War. What replaced the Cold War so that people wouldn't lack an iconic evil to fear (i.e. more justification for ongoing bloated miltary spending, at home and abroad)? The Drug War. And now, as the U.S. and Russia and China and whoever else make this last-ditch scramble to corner the very last of the petroleum, we have a convenient War on Terror.

We all need to watch Wag The Dog and read 1984 over and over again, and ask ourselves what it really means to be eternally vigilant. To be patriotic. To be Christian.

It is NOT (in my humble opinion) what FOX "news" and Michael "Savage" would have you think. They are political pawns that are not telling us the whole story. And the story is that practically every angle to this current debacle is a farce from square one.

Saddam was tried and convicted and executed for the group of people he killed in 1982. Yet it was well after this terrible event occurred that the U.S. actually dropped him from the list of "terror states." Have you ever seen the picture of Saddam and Rumsfeld together, shaking hands and sealing the deal? (not if you limit yourself to corporate news, more than likely!) The U.S. announced "normalization" with Saddam on March 29, 1984, only five days after the report that Saddam used mustard gas and Tabun nerve gas on Iran.

And after all that was widely known, the U.S. actually continued to supply biological and chemical weaponry and technology!

Perhaps most shockingly of all: as late as 1989, Iraq's nuclear scientists were invited to the U.S. to learn the latest in that field of military technology!

I think the whole "they never found WMDs" argument, whether true or not, could very well be a "red herring" fed to the left in a straw-man sort of way, because the truth is that we know he had some of these things because we have the receipts to prove it!

I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, but I do think that the media is so dominated by powerful and ridiculously rich companies that they are actually able to define the Left as well as the Right: in addition to sneakily concocting red-herring issues, they also constantly endeavour to find the most outlandish representatives of the Left so as to neatly fit the script of anyone having to be downright wacky to dare protest this deadly game of propaganda and war profiteering.

PROPAGANDA. Currently unrivaled by any previous campaign in history. After all that has happened so far, what if it turned out that, lo and behold, there wasn't even an Al-Qaeda? Did I lose some of you there? This is little short of heresy to even suggest that, right? Think of the consequences of such a reality. It utterly pulls the rug out from under the lion's share of the justification for the trillions of dollars spent and the tens of thousands (if not over a hundred-thousand) lives lost.

Well newsflash: Al-Qaeda didn't exist before 9-11! In a way, it really doesn't exist today, not in the way that it's portrayed. No, I won't deny that there were training camps for Islamic fanatics: they were created and funded by the U.S.! (do we see a pattern here?) But most of these people weren't focused on America in the sense that al-Zawahiri and Bin Laden were. They were primarily endeavouring to "take back" their own countries, such as Pakistan or any of the old Soviet "-stans." Osama and company recruited from these camps, undoubtedly, but it's very important to distinguish that these camps were not set up with America as the object.

Quite frankly, it is doubtful that there is any significant world-wide network called Al-Qaeda apart from the U.S. suddenly starting to call "it" that. They needed an "organization" so as to satisfy anti-Mafia legislation that necessitated an actual "entity" as such to exist in order to try its leaders in absentia, to indulge the technical aspect of it. In other words, Al-Qaeda was given its name in a U.S. Federal Court! Osama started using the term to describe his interpretation/branch of the movement only after the U.S. started doing so. Ditto for his accepted role as any sort of "leader" other than being Mr. Moneybags. (Remember, he's an oil baron, too... oh, and do I recall something about his family being business associates with the Bush family? Stop, that doesn't fit neatly into my reality tunnel! Cognitive dissonance alert! Cognitive dissonance alert! Quick, break out the tranquilizers!)

I'm sorry, I really hate to come off so sardonically, but every single level of this present quagmire stinks... from the set-up to the execution, multiple puns definitely intended. But let's assume, just for the sake of debate, that I'm completely crazy about the consistency of wars being waged in the name of Liberty, Freedom, God, etc., while all the while really being there to increase profitability for those with connections in high places. Let's grant that I've absolutely lost touch with reality to dare suggest that Osama/Al-Qaeda may not be nearly as much of a far-reaching organization as our government and media claim. And just to simplify matters, let's even pretend it to be completely irrelevant, that all those monstrous facets to Saddam Hussein's career as Iraq's ruler were either tolerated, supported, or even developed by the United States. Let's assume that the war was "just," as much of a long stretch as that may be. Let's then look at how it was carried out.

Like a nightmarish sequel to Robocop, this Iraq War has been the most privatized war in the history of the world. Period. As the Bush Administration is steered by some of the most extremely wealthy and powerful companies in the world, there has been a unilateral push to move everything into the private sector, philosophically couched with musings of the efficient hand of the "free market."

Well, yes, it is true that every single possible job in the military is now contracted out for four to five times what it formerly cost for a soldier to do the same thing, whether it was cleaning toilets or fixing radios. But it is not true that this was any way shape or form illustrious of capitalism: the bloated "cost-plus" (more money spent = more money kicked back) contracts were swung not through a competitive bidding process, but through backroom deals amongst golf partners.

The worst of these war pirates is Halliburton/KBR. Dick Cheney used to be their CEO. In 2004 alone, their current CEO, David Lesar, made over $42 million from Halliburton, the company that sent private American truck drivers into a red zone to die without armor or protection, the company who also saved money by providing moldy tents that made soldiers sick. The same company that saved money by skimping out on chlorine to the extent that 63 of their 67 contracted water supplies were chock full of parasites which many soldiers still aren't even aware that they're infected by (because Halliburton told their purification specialist that it was none of his business to inform the military). The same company that refuses to offer a safer twenty-four-hour food service but rather insists on scheduled meals with huge lines of soldiers standing there like sitting-ducks, because spreading out the meal availability wouldn't make as much profit. The same company that regularly ran trucks that were not carrying "as much as a band-aid" as one trucker said, so that they could bill the government more and get more kicked back as part of the uncompetitive, cost-plus contracts that their bosom buddies in the White House and in Congress secured for them. The same company that has made $18 billion of the taxpayers money from this war.

If anyone has a word other than "criminal" to explain this, please speak up.

And this is only one company. CACI's CEO J.P. London made over $22 million that same year, with his company providing, amongst other things, private interrogators that were most often trained to the extent of a minute-long phone conversation, if that, and then thrown into situations where they were in charge of soldiers who were guarding and attempting to extract intelligence from prisoners who were more often than not rounded up arbitrarily. We all know how twisted and deviant that turned out to be. Two soldiers are serving 18 years in prison between the two of them. Not a single private contractor that was in charge is even in trouble, let alone behind bars.

UNPRECEDENTED WAR PROFITEERING. Plain and simple. What was the punishment for just good ole' grassroots "ma and pa" wartime profiteering again? I thought I remembered that to be a pretty serious crime back in the day, huh? And where is all of this seemingly unlimited "free money" coming from? Oh, yeah... the national debt that George W. Bush doubled. Doubled in the sense that he has spent as much as every president before him combined. Doubled as in entering office with a $4 trillion national debt and now currently riding on an $8 trillion one. I remember a day when Republicans simply loved to go on and on about "small government" and "fiscal responsibility." I must be getting old...

The situation is dire, on so many levels that it seems hopeless. But it is not hopeless. The tide is turning, and more and more people are waking up to these bitter realities every day. And you know what they say, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. If people could but take a step outside FOX "news" and its increasingly narrow confines of Left and Right and refuse to be jerked around on both sides of that dichotomy, then the rest will follow. For it is only divisive rhetoric that keeps us all from putting an stop to, at the very least, our own nation's historical "leadership role" in contributing to the world's inhumanity. And I bristle at the notion that Christians ought not concern themselves with making the world a better place, because of some wistful dispensationalist reverie of "the day our Savior comes back to finish it all." I proclaim that we both have the ability and bear the responsibility to be a sincerely compassionate nation. And I pray to see that day in my lifetime. That's what "Christ returning" would mean to me, to the very core of its meaning.

We can change the world for the better, in hugely significant ways. But it will take courage, especially when we find ourselves burdened with the responsibility of sharing this vital information, however challenging may it be to some very deep and basic assumptions about modern politics, government, media, history, "rapture mentality," etc. on the part of our colleagues and peers, Christian and non-Christian alike.

If any Christian can honestly examine all of these serious claims I've made here and still state that this war is justified or "supported" in God's eyes, then we must have some seriously differing views on what and who Jesus really stood for. Please don’t take my word on any of this. We’re all intelligent people here, and there has never been a greater opportunity in history to research and compare notes with one another. It's pretty thrilling, actually! Just take it all with a grain of salt, keep your mind open no matter who’s talking to you, and most definitely please please PLEASE check out the following and let me know if you think there’s something, anything, to all of this:


Concerning the history of modern Islamic fundamentalism and parallel developments in the United States:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1002626006461047517
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7930933565201168
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8732625326538179377

Concerning the United State's tolerance and material support of Iraq's use of nerve gas on Iraqis and Iranians alike:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,866942,00.html

Concerning the historically-unheard-of magnitudes of wartime profiteering in Iraq:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6621486727392146155

Concerning the "rapture theology" that ultimately serves as the last resort of pitifully and pathetically excusing the failure of modern Christians to make a stand for what is moral, right, decent, compassionate, and loving when it comes to U.S. Foreign (and Domestic!) Policy:

http://www.crivoice.org/secondcoming.html
http://www.crivoice.org/rapture.html
http://www.catholicherald.com/gospel/04gc/gc041125.htm
http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/news_syndication/article_040415.shtml
http://www.harpers.org/TheApocalypseWillBeTelevised.html

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Ultimately, the saddest, most heart-wrenchingly and painfully tragic irony of all is how a dark-skinned man who preached peace and compassion toward the most vulnerable of all in our world, that He Himself should be propped up as an idol by a centuries-old money-cult of powerful white people as an iconic justification and/or denial of the murder of thousands upon tens of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of poor, defenseless (and usually darker-skinned!) people who have little if anything at all to do with the politics that find the bombs falling upon and slaughtering their FAMILIES!

I imagine Jesus still weeps.

scott_michael_perey said...

Here's some links that actually work! (still learning this html stuff, thanks for your patience!)

Concerning the history of modern Islamic fundamentalism and parallel developments in the United States:
part one
part two
part three

Concerning the United State's tolerance and material support of Iraq's use of nerve gas on Iraqis and Iranians alike:
shame!

Concerning the historically-unheard-of magnitudes of wartime profiteering in Iraq:
shame doesn’t even come close

Concerning the "rapture theology" that ultimately serves as the last resort of pitifully and pathetically excusing the failure of modern Christians to make a stand for what is moral, right, decent, compassionate, and loving when it comes to U.S. Foreign (and Domestic!) Policy:

the second coming
the rapture
Gospel commentary
Christians leave series finale “behind”
Great essay on the Left Behind series